Benchmark Consulting 2017: How Does Your Firm Compare?

Posted by Chris Duddridge on May 30, 2017

business benchmarking

How will your consulting firm perform in 2017? And how do you compare to your competitors?

Here we outline some of the key findings from the 2017 Professional Services Maturity™ Benchmark from Service Performance Insight. We examine how the industry is performing as a whole, and offer 5 key tips for ensuring a successful 2017 and beyond.

1. Maximize your talent

As a project-based business, you need the right talent to deliver every project as effectively and profitably as possible.

While the 2017 SPI report shows that topline revenue growth is still relatively strong in the industry at 9%, it’s interesting to note that, with companies taking action to be more effective and productive, headcount growth has slowed, with only a 6% increase – but is this to the detriment of deadlines?

This talent shortage can have a detrimental effect and professional services firms as project-based businesses suffer from a stretched workforce unable to deliver their best results.

A declining headcount growth can ultimately limit your company’s potential growth through an inability to deliver services. To this end, it is essential for businesses to revisit their recruitment and retention strategies to address service standards across the industry.

benchmark consulting

Learn more: Discover how to make the most of talent within the professional services sector.

2. Provide exceptional service

Ensure you stay on top of your competition by initiating additional services such as forming partnerships with clients to enhance particular services for their benefit.

Offer services that provide demonstrable, measurable value. Ensure you conduct regular performance reviews, where clients have the opportunity to provide feedback.

EMEA as a region reported a significant improvement in annual revenue growth for 2016. After years of lackluster growth, EMEA is recovering with revenue growth going from 6.5% in 2015 up to 10.3% in 2016. This is compared to 8.6% growth in the Americas, and 9.4% in APAC in 2016.

Regular assessments will make certain your firm’s revenue continues to follow this trend.

By defining a service delivery blueprint that enables you to make project success repeatable and consistent, you can beat your competitors to new bids and proposals.

And you’ll maintain client satisfaction levels that ensure repeat business.

annual revenue growth by geography

Learn more: Discover how to align your firm with EMEA revenue growth.

3. Embrace digital transformation

According to the 2017 SPI report, we’re seeing uneven sector performance for underlying year-over-year revenue growth.

Organizations that focus on the cloud, security, analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) are experiencing significant growth. However, more traditional sectors, like accounting and architecture are growing more slowly.

As a consulting firm, your business may be preaching the benefits of cloud-based technologies to clients, but are they being embraced internally?

Have digital processes been adopted to grow your business?

By incorporating digital technologies and processes into your own business practices, you can build efficiencies and increase control in every area of your project-based organization.

Annual revenue growth by industry

Learn more: Discover how professional services firms are harnessing digital technologies to transform their operations.

4. Evaluate how you sell

Another finding from the report showed that bid-to-win ratios were lower in 2016.

While this could be an indication of heightened competition, it could also suggest underlying sales or marketing issues. If you’re pitching for more projects than you’re winning, you might benefit from going back to basics.

Examine your market positioning to ensure you’re pitching for the right kinds of projects and targeting the right clients.

It’s also important to think about how you package your services to ensure you’re giving clients what they want. Reconsidering how you sell your services could help you tighten your proposals and win more business.

bid to win ratio

Learn more: Discover new ways to sell your services.

5. Keep your people happy

The cost of replacing a valuable employee can be as high as $150,000 (£120,617).

And it can have a detrimental effect on your organizational productivity.

So, it’s concerning that staff attrition rates in project-based businesses are rising.

As your people are critical to the success of your business, it’s important that you have a strategy to keep attrition low.

It’s important to consult with employees to discover what benefits resonate with them. You must make them feel valued, listen to their needs and ensure they’re happy with their career progression.

As a result you’ll have capable, willing talent in place to deliver successful, profitable projects and trigger growth.

employee attrition

Learn more: Discover new ways to retain talent.


Overall, the findings from the report show that project-based businesses are performing well, with revenue growing across a number of segments.

However, the talent shortage issue and rapid technologies advancements must be monitored and managed.

Change is constant in professional services, with each year bringing new geopolitical, socioeconomic and digital disruption. Firms can ensure success by staying ahead of these trends, being first to adopt new technologies and having strategies in place to nurture talent, client relations and project performance.

Learn more:

Find out more and benchmark your own performance against competitors. Download the SPI 2017 Professional Services Maturity Benchmark report now.